Lawyer for Brett Hankison Calls His Firing in Wake of Breonna Taylor's Death a ‘Cowardly Political Act’
The attorney also said the country's 400-year history of racial oppression as well as the Memorial Day death of George Floyd "have pressured the mayor to take immediate action."
Less than 24 hours after the Louisville Metro Police Department announced the firing of officer Brett Hankison, who was involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, his attorney has filed an appeal calling the firing a “cowardly political act.”
Attorney David Leightty filed the appeal obtained by Inside Edition Digital Wednesday evening, which says, “It would have taken courage and integrity to calmly state: 'We must wait until the investigations have been completed and the evidence is in hand before making any determinations regarding discipline.’”
"Unfortunately, the answer is that this termination is a cowardly political act," he wrote.
The LMPD posted the news of Hankison’s firing on Twitter Tuesday, saying that Hankison violated obedience to rules and regulations and use of deadly force. Police Chief Robert Schroeder said Hankinson’s actions brought a “shock to the conscience."
"Based upon my review, these are extreme violations of our policies," Schroeder wrote. "I find your conduct a shock to the conscience. I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion. You have never been trained by the Louisville Metro Police Department to use deadly force in this fashion. Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department."
Hankison fired 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment as well as other nearby apartments on the night the 26-year-old EMT was killed, according to Schroeder.
"These rounds created a substantial danger of death and serious injury to Breonna Taylor and the three occupants of the apartment next to Ms. Taylor's,” Schroeder added.
Schroeder said that the cop fired “blindly” into the apartment, which is something Hankison denies and his attorney urged for ballistic testing to be compiled.
Leightty said in the appeal that Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer ordered interim Chief Robert Schroeder to fire Hankison "before the facts have been fully assembled." He also said that the mayor and interim police chief's letter announcing Hankison’s firing was "amped up with hyperbole."
"The history of racial oppression is indeed angering, and what happened to Mr. Floyd is indeed horrifying," Leightty states. "But to assume that the events at Ms. Taylor's apartment must be like those in the death of Mr. Floyd, or any other particular incident, is not justified."
"Any determination of whether to punish Hankison, and if so what the punishment should be, must rest on facts and evidence, not on assumptions," he said. "Brett Hankison's actions must be judged based on what they really were — and that is not yet fully established."
The appeal will be considered by the Police Merit Board, as is required under state law.
The two other officers who fired their weapons while carrying out the warrant on Taylor's home, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove, have been placed on administrative reassignment.
In documentation previously obtained by the Louisville Courier-Journal, police were authorized to carry out a “no-knock” warrant on Taylor’s home as part of a narcotics investigation on a home ten miles away. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were the investigation's target. Police had suspected, though, that Taylor’s home was used to receive drugs.
Authorities initially said they identified themselves despite the “no-knock” warrant, but Walker reportedly opened fire on police because he thought the home was being broken into. Police said the officers were “immediately” met by gunfire when they entered Taylor and Walker's home, at which point they returned fire. Walker called 911 during the ordeal and police informed him he’d shot an officer. He was initially charged with attempted murder, but his charges were later dropped. No drugs were found in the home.
In the wake of Taylor's death, the city has banned "no-knock" warrants.
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